Microsoft Stacks Up Its SOA Strategy -- Q&A
At its annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver this week, Microsoft made
a few moves to broaden the appeal of its service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy, including the introduction
of its SOA
& Business Process Pack
to be available in September.
The new bundle includes a handful of the company's bread-and-butter applications
and tools, including BizTalk Server 2006, SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio Team
System and Office SharePoint Server 2007. Along with this bundle, the company
will also offer technical guidance to users, particularly those attempting their
first SOA implementation.
Microsoft also announced a new Branch Edition of BizTalk R2 that helps users
better integrate a variety of real-time business processes in branch offices
or geographically remote areas with those occurring at a company's headquarters
and/or in other remote locations.
I spoke with Burley Kawasaki, director of product management with Microsoft's
Connected Systems Division, about the announcements and what they mean to Microsoft's
How do these announcements move your SOA story forward?
In the past, we have talked about BizTalk Server R2 for supply chain scenarios
and we think that is still a pretty untapped area. So we are supporting vertical
market and supply chain standards like HIPPA, RosettaNet, Swift and HL7. Previously,
we offered these on a standalone purchase basis as accelerators. But in order
to remove some of the barriers to deploying these technologies, we are including
it as part of the core BizTalk Server engine in both the Standard and Enterprise
editions. This will help democratize the supply chain space, especially among
the tier 2 and 3 [supply chain] companies that do not have the same level of
IT resources as the larger suppliers.
What role will the Branch Edition of BizTalk Server play?
The Branch Edition SKU is targeted at intra-organizational deployments.
People are certainly investing in SOA for their back office systems. But what
is driving a lot of businesses is what is happening out at the edge -- whether
that is a branch, divisional unit or a warehouse -- where real-time processes
occur. Often, things that occur out there are out of synch with the core ERP
systems in terms of working with the same data and processes. This [product]
solves some of the last-mile problems to where you can now connect to real-time
events happening on the shop floor and connect them to the corporate hub.
So essentially, the Branch Edition creates new market opportunities not
available to you before.
That's right. This is pretty much white space. Today, you might accomplish this
through a custom one-off solution. It also represents new market opportunities
for our partners that are building solutions around this.
What is the thinking behind the SOA & Business Process Pack?
Well, we get a lot of questions from partners and users about what part
of the Microsoft stack they should use for SOA projects, how to use them together
and what the right scenarios are for doing a first [SOA] project. We are trying
to codify our experience and create an integrated licensing offering where you
can buy a single SKU and have all the software you need. But we are also including
along with this guidance patterns and practices and reference implementations
that show how to implement a first SOA project. We think this pack can be a
platform for building Office-based composite apps on top of a SOA infrastructure,
including SharePoint, and use Visual Studio tools for modifying and building
Talk about your plans to embed BizTalk inside third-party applications.
If you are an ISV building, say, a financial application, you do not want
to have to build all the SOA-related infrastructure, so we are giving
them an option to resell our technology as part of their solution. It can be
completely embedded in their applications so users wouldn't even see it. We
think in the SOA space, ISVs will increasingly look to buy rather than build
because it figures to be a basic part of their infrastructure.